I can read bedtime stories til the cow jumps over the moon, and sing "Ten Little Monkeys" until I want to call the doctor--but if I don't have love, I'm as annoying as a phone that rings all the time.
I can chase a naked toddler through the house while cooking dinner and listening to voice mail, I can fix the best cookies and Kool-Aid in the neighborhood, and I can tell a sick child's temperature with one touch of my finger, but if I don't have love, I am nothing.
Love is patient while watching and praying by the front window when it's 30 minutes past curfew.
Love is kind when my child says, "I don't like you anymore!"
It does not envy the neighbor's swimming pool or their brand new SUV that we can't afford, but trusts the Lord to provide every need.
Love does not brag when other parents share their disappointments and insecurities, and love rejoices when other families succeed.
It doesn't boast, even when I've multi-tasked all day long and my husband can't do more than one thing at a time.
Love is not rude when my spouse innocently asks, "So....what have you done today?"
It does not immediately seek glory when we see talent in our children, but encourages them to get training and make wise choices.
It is not easily angered, even when my 15-year-old acts like the world revolves around her.
It does not delight in evil (is not self-righteous) when I remind my 17-year-old that he's going 83 in a 55-mph zone, but rejoices in the truth.
Love does not give up hope. It always protects our children's self-esteem and spirit, even while doling out discipline.
It always trusts God to protect our children when we cannot. It always perseveres, through temper tantrums, rolled eyes and crossed arms, messy rooms, and sleepless nights.
Love never fails. But where there are memories of thousands of diaper changes and painful labors, they will fade away.
Where there is talking back, it will (eventually) cease.
Where there is a teenager who thinks she knows everything, there will one day be an adult who knows you did your best.
For we know we fail our children, and we pray they don't end up in therapy, but when we get to heaven, our imperfect parenting will disappear.
When we were children, we needed a parent to love and protect us. Now that we're parents ourselves, we have a heavenly Father who adores us, shelters us, and holds us when we need to cry. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.